“I Never Sang for my Father” senior capstone preview

Gracie Campbell – Staff writer

The upcoming play production, “I Never Sang for my Father,” will premiere on Dordt University’s campus next weekend, March 24 and 25.

Tommy Shin, a senior theater arts acting and directing major, is directing the upcoming play this spring. The play is a Senior Capstone Project; in these projects, a Dordt senior chooses and directs his or her own play.

After looking through offered projects to produce, Shin found that “I Never Sang for my Father” stood out.

“When I read it, I couldn’t even notice what was in my head,” Shin said. “Just right away [I knew], ‘I have to do this.’”

The play itself focuses on the story of a father, Tom Garrison, and his son, Gene Garrison. The son must decide whether to move away when his loving mother dies, and leave his stubborn father alone with Gene. Gene feels responsible for caring for his father and does so to grow closer to his father, who has felt distant his whole life. The story follows Gene and Tom as Gene attempts to understand his father and be understood by him.

“This is really meaningful,” Shin said, “and important to share [with] everyone.”

Nathan Hopkins, a senior digital media production student, plays the son, Gene Garrison.

“I’ve played a lot of lively characters,” Hopkins said, “but it’s a much different role in that it is slower and more serious.”

Hopkins discovered that he would be leading in this play just a month ago and the cast has had a quick turnaround.

“It shows our commitment for getting this show done so quickly,” Hopkins said.

Abby Grace Caldwell, a freshman art education major, plays Nurse Janet Halsey in the production as well as being the costume, hair, and makeup designer. Her character briefly helps Gene and Tom experience the loss of their mother and wife.

“I like that it deals with hard concepts,” Caldwell said. “I think that’s what the best plays do. They take real-life situations that are hard to experience and process, and they put them into a storyline that we can take part in. It helps us to process those things as well.”

The directing process began with finalizing a time period, which impacted costume and set design. Shin read the script several times and discussed his vision with the designers.

“There’s lots of conversation,” Shin said.

He wanted to be on the same page with others and held designer meetings regarding their thoughts. The design factor was important to nail down as the play is heavily conversation-based.

“There’s not lots of things on the stage,” Shin said. “There’s no entertaining scenes, but if you listen to their conversation well, it talks really deep – how parents grew up and how that affects children and the way children think.”

Shin particularly appreciates the play’s implicit ending.

“It’s open to everyone,” Shin said. “It’s not going to tell a good solution between the son and father.”

The cast is excited to share what they have been working on and see it on stage. The play will be performed at 7:30 pm on Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25.

“I’m most excited to see my costume designs on the actors,” Caldwell said. “When it finally gets done and it’s all put together, I think it will be really fun.”

Contributed photo

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